There were 2,142 more deaths related to the coronavirus in England and Wales than previously recorded by the government, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
New data shows that there were 6,235 deaths involving COVID-19 up to the week ending April 3, 15% higher than the 4,093 deaths reported by the government.
The increase is due to the ONS including deaths in community settings in its data.
Nick Stripe, head of health analysis and life events at the ONS said: “The latest comparable data for deaths involving COVID-19 with a date of death up to 3 April, show there were 6,235 deaths in England and Wales. When looking at data for England, this is 15% higher than the NHS numbers as they include all mentions of COVID-19 on the death certificate, including suspected COVID-19, as well as deaths in the community.
“The 16,387 deaths that were registered in England and Wales during the week ending 3 April is the highest weekly total since we started compiling weekly deaths data in 2005.”
The year-to-date analysis shows that, 406 deaths registered up to April 3 occurred outside of hospitals, including 136 in private homes, 217 in care homes, 33 in hospices, three in other communal establishments and 17 elsewhere.
But the real toll of community deaths is likely to be much higher, with HC-One alone reporting that there had been 311 deaths from confirmed or suspected COVID-19 across its homes.
Care England estimated that the death toll in care homes is likely to be close to 1,000.
“We are seeing underreporting of the number of deaths,” CEO Martin Green told the Guardian. “Deaths might not be in the thousands yet, but it is coming up to that level. We need a proper analysis of death rates occurring across care homes, and the government should be collecting this data.”
The new data emerged as Age UK director Caroline Abrahams warned that older people are being “airbrushed” out of coronavirus figures in the UK like “they don’t matter”.
Meanwhile, elderly and vulnerable people are being pressured to sign ‘do not attempt resuscitation’ (DNAR) forms, the charity said in a joint statement with age sector organisations.
“We are seeing shocking examples where blanket decisions seem to be being made about the care and treatment options that will be available to older and vulnerable people, who have felt pressurised into signing Do Not Attempt CPR forms,” the statement said.
“Alongside this, many of the people affected have experienced fear and anxiety, and feel that their lives and wishes do not matter. This is shameful and unacceptable.”
Earlier this month, the Care Quality Commission condemned GPs across the country for categorising people who receive care in community settings as not requiring resuscitation if they fall ill with coronavirus.
The regulator said it is “unacceptable” for advance care plans, with or without DNAR form completion, to be applied to groups of people “of any description”.